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Photo Flash: Hampton Theatre Company Stages PRIVATE LIVES

Playwright Noël Coward's effervescent 1930s comedy "Private Lives" will be the fourth and final play of the Hampton Theatre Company's 2018-2019 season, opening on May 23 at the Quogue Community Hall and running through June 9.

Long considered one of Coward's masterpieces, "Private Lives" takes a sidesplitting look at the volatile chemistry that can draw couples together, or split them apart. Sparkling with wit and wisdom, the play opens with once-married Elyot and Amanda now honeymooning at the same hotel with their new spouses. When their paths cross, the old spark is reignited and the two impulsively run away to Paris, only to wonder a few days later whether love, jealousy or anger is the hotter passion.

The prodigiously gifted Coward sketched out the play in his head over two weeks while he was recuperating from the flu, and then wrote it in four days. The first production, in 1930 in London, starred the playwright in the role of Elyot, his longtime co-star Gertrude Lawrence as Amanda, and a young Laurence Olivier as Amanda's stuffy new husband, Victor Prynne.

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (1899 - 1973) was a prolific English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer known for his wit, flamboyance, and a personal style marked by his keen sense of theatricality. Making his professional stage début as a dancer at age 11, as a teenager he was introduced into the high society that would serve as the setting for most of his plays.

His most enduring success was as a playwright, with more than 50 plays published from his teens onwards. Many of his works have remained in the regular theatre repertoire, including such notable successes as: Blithe Spirit (1941; produced by HTC 1997); Hay Fever (1924; produced by HTC 2015); Private Lives (1930); Design for Living (1932), and Present Laughter (1942).

The cast of "Private Lives" features five HTC veterans: Andrew Botsford as Elyot; Rosemary Cline as Amanda; Matthew Conlon (fresh from his role as Cervantes/Quixote in HTC's "Man of La Mancha") as Victor; Rebecca Edana as Elyot's new wife, Sybil; and Diana Marbury as Louise, the maid in Amanda's Paris flat. The play is a reunion of sorts for Botsford, Cline, Conlon, and Edana, as all four worked together in last season's final show, "Don't Dress for Dinner."

George Loizides directs. Set design is by Sean Marbury; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; sound by Seamus Naughton; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

"Private Lives" runs at the Quogue Community Hall from May 23 to June 9, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, June 8, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.

The Hampton Theatre Company will again be offering special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Westhampton, Southampton, Hampton Bays and Quogue libraries. Offered in association with the Quogue Club at the Hallock House, a special lunch and theater package is also available for the Saturday matinee on June 8. For information about all packages and available discounts, visit www.hamptontheatre.org or email info@hamptontheatre.org. Additional information about library dinner and theater packages is also available through the libraries.

To reserve tickets, visit www.hamptontheatre.org, or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

Photo Credit: Tom Kochie



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