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'Irma Vep', 'Cyrano', and Shakespeare Join 'First Wives' This Summer at Old Globe

Lou Spisto, Executive Producer of the Tony Award®-winning Old Globe, has announced the Theatre’s complete 2009 Summer Season. As previously announced, the world premiere of The First Wives Club – A New Musical, book by Rupert Holmes, music and lyrics by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, directed by Francesca Zambello, will run in the Old Globe Theatre July 15 – August 16, 2009.  The Arena Theatre at the San Diego Museum of Art’s James S. Copley Auditorium will host Charles Ludlam’s hilarious gothic play, The Mystery of Irma Vep, directed by Henry Wishcamper, to run August 1 – September 6, 2009.

In the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, the Globe will present two works of Shakespeare productions: Twelfth Night and Henry VIII, along with Edmond Rostand’s celebrated classic, Cyrano de Bergerac. The three productions will be performed in nightly rotation in the Globe’s outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre June 13 – September 27, 2009. Globe Resident Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak will once again oversee the Festival and direct Henry VIII and Cyrano de Bergerac, while Festival favorite Paul Mullins (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure) will direct Twelfth Night.

For more information or to subscribe to The Old Globe’s 2009 Summer Season, please contact Globe Ticket Services at (619) 23-GLOBE or visit

“In this sixth season after reinstituting the repertory format, as the Shakespeare Festival nears its 75th anniversary in 2010, we have chosen to break with recent practice and, as do many other major Shakespeare Festivals, again produce classical works, important revivals and sometimes contemporary plays in repertory with the works of Shakespeare as part of the Festival.  Cyrano is a play that fits this mission perfectly; and along with Twelfth Night and Henry VIII performed by a company of nearly thirty, complemented by a world premiere musical headed to Broadway and a hilarious satire that is already a modern classic, summer 2009 is going to be one joyous time for both our audiences and artists,” said Spisto. “We are particularly delighted that the repertory format has been so popular with audiences and that the past several seasons led by our resident artistic director, Darko Tresnjak, a company of actors, directors and designers  have brought San Diego and the region consistently excellent  productions. Adding the “non” Shakespeare may not be something we do every year but we have been planning this change for a while and it is particularly timely as we set the stage for the 2010 anniversary—so stay tuned!”

Set in Paris in 1640, Cyrano de Bergerac is a classic tale of romance and tragedy. Talented poet, swordsman and Cadet in the French army, Cyrano falls in love with the beautiful Roxane but lacks the confidence to reveal his true feelings due to his abnormally large nose. Resigned to his loss, Cyrano offers to help his fellow soldier Christian win her affections by writing love letters on his behalf. Roxane falls in love with author of the letters not realizng it is Cyrano. His tender verse gives voice to the inarticulate, dashing Christian, gaining him her heart just before both men depart for war. This classic romantic story is laced with swagger, gallantry and sacrifice, and some of the most beautiful verse ever written.

One of the Bard’s most beloved comedies, Twelfth Night centers on the beautiful heroine Viola, shipwrecked in a strange land. She disguises herself as the boy “Cesario” and works her way into the court of Duke Orsino. Impressed by this articulate and handsome young man, Orsino sends Cesario to woo Lady Olivia on the Duke’s behalf, but Cesario speaks so eloquently that Olivia is soon smitten – not with the Duke, but with Cesario. Meanwhile Viola has fallen in love with Orsino and finds herself, along with an entire comic entourage, entangled in a web of disguises, mistaken identities and misplaced affections.

Henry VIII ascended to the throne as a lithe, handsome 17-year-old and died after an extraordinary 38-year reign, an embittered, obese invalid. Desperate for a male heir, Henry casts aside the older, but loyal, Katharine of Aragon for a series of marriages with wives – the determined temptress Anne Boleyn, the pious yet tragic Jane Seymour, the outcast Anne of Cleves, the adulterous Katherine Howard and finally the devoted Katherine Parr. Full of Tudor splendor and pageantry, Henry VIII depicts the sexual intrigue, betrayal and rivalry that existed within his court, in a reign notable for its political and religious upheaval, violence and corruption.

Spisto continued. “Darko and I are delighted to bring Paul Mullins back for his third production at The Globe. Paul has been an important part of the success of The Shakespeare Festival and we are all looking forward to his take on Twelfth Night next summer.”

In Charles Ludlam’s hilarious Obie Award-winning play, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Lady Enid, newly married to the controversial Lord Edgar, arrives at his castle estate on a “dark and stormy night” under the spell of his deceased first wife and haunted by something prowling the moors. She quickly encounters a werewolf, a vampire, an Egyptian princess and the mystery of Irma Vep, whose portrait hangs over the fireplace. This hilarious, tongue-in-cheek production celebrates and skewers such classics as "Rebecca," Wuthering Heights," "Jane Eyre," and The Raven" in a fun-filled evening. With dozens of lightning-fast changes, two actors portray all the roles – men, women and monsters – in this hilarious tour-de-farce.

“Spisto added, “I am thrilled that Henry Wishcamper has accepted my invitation to make his directorial debut at the Globe next summer. I was very impressed with his work on his acclaimed production of Connor McPherson’s Port Authority earlier this year.  He is a wonderful addition to the growing list of the next generation of nationally recognized directors at The Globe.”

Based on the best-selling novel and Hollywood blockbuster of the same name, The First Wives Club – A New Musical is a thrilling, Broadway-bound production, featuring a book by Tony winner Rupert Holmes (Curtains!, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Say Goodnight Gracie) and a score by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, the threesome who created hits for Martha and The Vandellas, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and The Supremes. The production will be directed by award winning opera and theatrical director Francesca Zambello (The Little Mermaid for Disney on Broadway, Little House on the Prairie for the Guthrie Theatre, Rebecca at the Vienna Raimund Theatre and recently, Porgy and Bess and the Wagner Ring Cycle at the San Francisco Opera where she is the Artistic Advisor. Ms Zambello has won three Olivier Awards and has credits at The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Albert Hall, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, The Kennedy Center and the Chicago Lyric.)  The popular 1996 film “The First Wives Club” — about three divorced women who seek revenge on their former husbands — was based on Olivia Goldsmith's novel and featured a screenplay by Robert Harling. The motion picture grossed over $130 million and boasted a star-studded cast comprising Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton

The internationally-acclaimed, Tony Award® -winning Old Globe is one of the most renowned regional theatres in the country and has stood as San Diego’s flagship arts institution for 72 years. The Old Globe produces a year-round season of 15 plays and musicals on its three stages, including its highly-regarded Shakespeare festival. The Globe has become a gathering place for leading theatre artists from around the world, such as Tom Stoppard, Daniel Sullivan and Chita Rivera, among many others. Numerous Broadway-bound premieres and revivals, such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty and Damn Yankees, have been developed at The Old Globe and have gone on to enjoy highly successful runs in New York and at regional theatres across the country.

 The Globe’s 2008 Summer Season includes the renowned Summer Shakespeare Festival, featuring Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor and All’s Well That Ends Well playing in repertory; The Pleasure of His Company; and Donald Margulies’ Sight Unseen. Under the leadership of Executive Producer Louis G. Spisto and Resident Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, the Globe is at the forefront of the nation’s leading performing arts organizations, setting a standard for excellence in American theatre.

 Artist Biographies

One of America's most popular and prolific “pop” songwriting teams ever, the hits of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland have received over 100 million airplays on radio and television. Their songs have had an indelible influence on the international music scene and have been a part of the fabric of our lives for over four decades. Their body of work has been recorded by Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Marvin Gaye, The Dixie Chicks, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Isley Brothers, Freda Payne, The Carpenters, Barbara Streisand, Reba McEntire, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, The Jackson Five and The Beatles to name just a few. They were inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988; into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990; they received the National Association of Recording Artists and Science Trustee Award; and were recently honored with the BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) “ICON” award.

Rupert Holmes is the author of numerous songs, musicals, plays and novels, which have earned him three Tony awards (best book, best score and best musical), several Drama Desk awards, and the prestigious Edgar Award, which was given to him by the Mystery Writers of America. He has developed and arranged songs for many renowned artists, including Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow, Paul Williams, the Manhattan Transfer and Barbara Cook.  His Solitary, which starred Stacey Keach, set a new box office record at the Kennedy Center. Other notable theatrical projects include the Tony Award-Winning, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Tony-nominated Say Goodnight Gracie, The Accomplice, Goosebumps and Marty. His latest show, Curtains, a Kander and Ebb musical, recently played to major acclaim on Broadway. He also received an Emmy for his made-for-television dramedy, “Remember WENN,” and more recently his novel, Where The Truth Lies, has been translated into a major motion picture starring Kevin Bacon.

Charles Ludlam was an American actor, director, playwright and founder of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York City. His works include Big Hotel (1967), Conquest of the Universe, or When Queens Collide (1968),  Turds in Hell, an adaptation of The Satyricon (1969), The Grand Tarot (1969), Bluebeard, an adaptation of H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr Moreau (1970), Eunuchs of the Forbidden City (1971) , Corn (1972) Camille (1973), Stage Blood, an adaptation of Hamlet (1975), Caprice (1976), Der Ring Gott Farblonjet, an adaptation of The Ring Cycle, The Ventriloquist's Wife, Utopia, Incorporated, The Enchanted Pig, Elephant Woman, A Christmas Carol, Reverse Psychology (1980), Love's Tangled Web (1981), Secret Lives of the Sexists, Exquisite Torture, Galas (1983), inspired by the life of Maria Callas, The Artificial Jungle (1986), How to Write a Play.

Paul Mullins directed the Globe’s acclaimed Shakespeare Festival productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor (2008), Measure for Measure (2007) and Macbeth (2005). He is a company member of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, where he has directed and performed for 14 seasons. His production of King John for the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival was named one of the Top Ten Productions of 2003 by New Jersey’s Star Ledger, which called the piece “a self-contained stunner.” Mr. Mullins’ productions have been seen at The Juilliard School, Portland Stage, American Stage, the Yale School of Drama, and the Academy of Classical Acting.

Globe Executive Producer Lou Spisto has led The Old Globe since October, 2002. During his tenure, Spisto spearheaded the return of the Globe’s Shakespeare Repertory Season and brought to the Globe several new musicals, including the recent critically-acclaimed John Doyle and Harvey Fierstein collaboration, A Catered Affair, the launch of the national tour of the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q and the Broadway transfers Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, the Twyla Tharp/Bob Dylan musical, THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’. He has produced over 75 plays and musicals, including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the west coast premiere of the Tony Award-winning play Take Me Out and the Globe’s annual holiday favorite, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Spisto has managed the Globe’s Capital Campaign to raise $75 million by the Theatre’s 75th anniversary in 2010. Launched in March, 2006, the campaign has reached 85% of its goal to date. During the past four seasons, the organization has grown its subscription audience an unprecedented amount, resulting in the highest level of attendance in over a decade. The Globe was also recognized by Charity Navigator, America’s premiere charity evaluator, which recently gave the Globe its third consecutive 4-Star rating. A strong advocate of arts education, Spisto initiated several new programs including an innovative cross-border program involving students from both San Diego and Tijuana in a unique bilingual production of Romeo and Juliet. He also launched a free matinee series which brings thousands of students to the Globe’s productions. Spisto established a reputation as a superb arts executive here in California, where he spent over ten years as the Executive Director of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in Orange County. During his tenure there, he tripled the orchestra’s annual budget, while eliminating a prior deficit and successfully completing the orchestra’s first endowment campaign. In addition, he established a series of innovative recording projects with Sony Classical and oversaw a number of nationally recognized commissioning projects. He also served as the chief executive at both American Ballet Theatre and The Detroit Symphony. He holds a Masters degree from the University of Wisconsin in Arts Administration and a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame, and spent many years directing, producing and as an actor in plays and musicals throughout his college and graduate school years, as well as in professional summer theatre.

Globe Resident Artistic Director and Artistic Director of the Globe’s 2004-2008 Shakespeare Festivals, Darko Tresnjak's directorial credits at the Globe include: The Pleasure of His Company, All’s Well That Ends Well, Bell, Book and Candle, Hamlet, Pericles, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Antony and Cleopatra,  The Winter's Tale, The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Titus Andronicus. Other credits include The Merchant of Venice at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Theatre for a New Audience, All's Well That Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra at Theatre for a New Audience; The Two Noble Kinsmen at The Public Theatre; Princess Turandot and Hotel Universe at Blue Light Theater Company; More Lies About Jerzy at the Vineyard Theater Company; The Skin of Our Teeth, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Winter's Tale, Under Milk Wood, Moving Picture, The Blue Demon, Princess Turandot and The Love of Three Oranges at Williamstown Theatre Festival; Heartbreak House, What the Butler Saw, Amphitryon and The Blue Demon at the Huntington Theatre; Hay Fever and Princess Turandot at Westport Country Playhouse; The Two Noble Kinsmen at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at Long Wharf Theater; A Little Night Music, Amour at Goodspeed Opera House; and La Dispute at UCSD. His opera credits include the American premiere of Victor Ullmann’s Der Zerbrochene Krug and Alexander Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg at Los Angeles Opera; Die Zauberflöte at Opera Theater of St. Louis; Orfeo ed Euridice, Il Trovatore and Turandot at Virginia Opera; Turandot at Opera Carolina; Il Barbieri di Siviglia Florida Grand Opera; Die Zauberflöte, Florentine Opera Company; La Traviata, Der Fliegende Hollander, Die Fledermaus, and the American premiere of May Night at Sarasota Opera. He is the recipient of the Alan Schneider Award for Directing Excellence, TCG National Theater Artist Residency Award, Boris Sagal Directing Fellowship, NEA New Forms Grant, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowships, two San Diego Critics Circle Awards for his direction of Pericles and The Winter's Tale, and two Patté Awards for his direction of The Winter’s Tale and Titus Andronicus. He has performed with numerous Philadelphia dance and theater companies and toured across the United States and Japan with the UNIMA Award-winning Mum Puppettheatre. He was educated at Swarthmore College and Columbia University. Upcoming projects include Walter Braunfels’ The Birds at the Los Angeles Opera, conducted by James Conlon.

Henry Wishcamper’s recent directing credits include Conor McPherson’s Port Authority (Atlantic Theater Company) and The Seafarer (Hartford TheaterWorks), Lanford Wilson’s The Mound Builders (Julliard), Horton Foote’s  Talking Pictures (Goodman Theatre), the New York premiere of Jane Martin’s Flags (59e59), Doug Grissom’s Elvis People (New World Stages), his own play The Polish Play, A Conflation of Macbeth by William Shakespeare and Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry (Katharsis Theater Company), Thornton Wilder’s Pullman Car Hiawatha (Keen Company; Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Revival of a Play), Scott Blumenthal’s So Frightful… (McGinn/Cazale Theater; commissioned by the Maine Humanities Council), Conor McPherson’s The Good Thief (Portland Stage Company), Moliere’s The Flying Doctor and The Imaginary Cuckold (Roundtable Ensemble), and John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore (HERE). He served as the assistant director on the Broadway productions of August: Osage County (directed by Anna D. Shapiro), Shining City (directed by Robert Falls), Absurd Person Singular (directed by John Tillinger) and Match (directed by Nicholas Martin). Henry is the Artistic Director of Katharsis Theater Company. He also served as the Artistic Director of the Maine Summer Dramatic Institute in Portland, Maine from 1997-1999 and as the Artistic Associate of Keen Company from 2002-2005. He is a Drama League Directing Fellow.

Francesca Zambello is an internationally recognized and award-winning opera and theater director. Her recent theatrical credits include The Little Mermaid for Disney on Broadway, Little House on the Prairie for the Guthrie Theater, Rebecca for the Vienna Raimund Theater, West Side Story for the floating stage in Bergenz, Austria, and Showboat at The Royal Albert Hall. She is the Artistic Advisor of the San Francisco Opera where she is helming a new Ring Cycle and Porgy and Bess this season.  She has many notable directing credits at Metropolitan Opera, including An American Tragedy, Cyrano and Les Troyens, as well as at Teatro alla Scala, Royal Albert Hall, Bolshoi, Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, Washington Opera, and Chicago Lyric, among others.  Her honors include three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, Helpmann Award, Palme d'Or in Germany and the Golden Mask in Russia.


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