TheatreWorks Presents UPRIGHT GRAND, Now thru 8/10


TheatreWorks, the nationally acclaimed theatre of Silicon Valley, launches its 43rd season with the world premiere of UPRIGHT GRAND, a play with live music by acclaimed playwright Laura Schellhardt (Auctioning the Ainsleys).

A hit at last year's New Works Festival, this tender and intelligent portrait of the complex relationship between a father and daughter will be helmed by TheatreWorks New Works Director Meredith McDonough. Dan Hiatt will star as aging songwriter "Pops," with Renata Friedman as "Kiddo" and Brett Ryback as "The Accompanist."

UPRIGHT GRAND plays tonight, July 11 - August 10, 2011 (press opening July 14) at TheatreWorks at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. For tickets ($24-$73) and information the public may call (650) 463-1960 or visit

The latest venture by award-winning playwright Laura Schellhardt, UPRIGHT GRAND is at once a poignant drama and a snappy comedy that explores the intricate dynamics of family relationships. An aspiring composer and pianist at the local watering hole, "Pops" spends his days in his rehearsal room with nothing but his music and upright piano for company – until he finds an unexpected kindred spirit in his young daughter. As he nurtures her precocious talent and she grows from a child practicing scales at his side to an internationally sought-after classical pianist, it's hard to say what is more difficult for her father: watching her grow up or watching her surpass him. Complimented by live piano accompaniment and told with Schellhardt's signature wit and wordplay, UPRIGHT GRAND explores the complexity of a father's dedication to his daughter, and questions whether there are some emotions that run too deep to express – through words or through music.

For this stirring family drama, TheatreWorks welcomes back Bay Area stage veteran Dan Hiatt as "Pops." Hiatt's credits include The Pitmen Painters, The 39 Steps, and Twentieth Century at TheatreWorks and roles at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Festival, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Pasadena Playhouse. TheatreWorks also welcomes newcomers Renata Friedman as "Kiddo" and Brett Ryback as "Accompanist." Winner of Seattle Magazine's Best Actress of 2011 award, Renata Friedman's credits include The K of D at Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pistol Cat Productions and ACT in Seattle, and FringeNYC, as well as roles at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, and New York's New Victory Theatre. In addition to his television appearances on House, How I Met Your Mother, and Cupid, Brett Ryback's credits include roles at South Coast Repertory Theatre, La Mirada, Theatre @ Boston Court, Center Theatre Group, The Laguna Playhouse, and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

The TheatreWorks production of UPRIGHT GRAND includes musical direction by William Liberatore, set design by Kris Stone, costume design by Jill Bowers, and lighting design by Paul Toben.

Playwright Laura Schellhardt received an MFA in playwriting from Brown University where she was a protégé of Paula Vogel. She is the author of many original works including Auctioning the Ainsleys which had its world premiere at TheatreWorks, How to Remove Blood from a Carpet, The K of D, Air Guitar High, The Apothecary's Daughter, Courting Vampires, Shapeshifter, Inheritance, and Je Ne Sais Quoi. Her work has been produced in New York, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C., Providence, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Orlando, Sarasota, San Francisco, Los Angeles, North Carolina, Palo Alto, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is also the author of Screenwriting for Dummies. Laura is a recipient of the TCG National Playwriting Residency, the Jerome Fellowship, the New Play Award from ACT in Seattle, and a Dramatist Guild Fellowship. She currently heads the playwriting program at Northwestern University.

TheatreWorks Director of New Works Meredith McDonough helms this World Premiere. Since her appointment in 2009, McDonough has been instrumental in bringing several world premieres to TheatreWorks, including Fly By Night by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock, Clementine in the Lower 9 by Dan Dietz, Rajiv Joseph's The North Pool, winner of the 2011 Glickman Award, and Laura Schellhardt's Auctioning the Ainsleys, which McDonough directed. She also directed the regional premieres of Michael Hollinger's Opus, [title of show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, and last season's Now Circa Then by Carly Mensch. Before coming to TheatreWorks, McDonough had been actively developing new works at theatres including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Round House Theatre, The Public Theatre, LABryinth Theatre Company, Ars Nova, Women's Project and Productions, New Georges, and the Drama League. She spent two years as the New Works Program Director at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and three seasons as a resident director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, famed for its annual Humana Festival of New American Plays.

With some 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast locally and from across the country. A home for artists developing new works, it was at TheatreWorks that Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical now in its third year on Broadway and currently on its first U.S. tour, was first workshopped and received its world premiere.

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