Wheelhouse Theater Company Will Present Return Engagement Of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE
Wheelhouse Theater Company and its Founding Members Matt Harrington, David Kenner, Michael Schantz, and Jeffrey Wise announced today that due to popular demand, the company will stage a special return engagement of Kurt Vonnegut's rarely produced play HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE October 18th - November 29th at The Duke on 42nd Street, a NEW 42ND STREET project, 229 West 42nd Street in Manhattan. The New York Times Critics' Pick production, which garnered unanimous rave reviews this past Spring at the Gene Frankel Theatre, offers up dynamic and often hilarious insight into a capitalist society's attempts to make socio-cultural progress in a world polarized by its moral and political outrage...or lack thereof. Jeffrey Wise will direct the production that will run through Thursday, November 29th. The official opening is set for Tuesday, October 23rd. For more information, visit http://www.wheelhousetheater.org
Wheelhouse Theater Company's original HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE cast returns for this special engagement and features Craig Wesley Divino (Founder Faultline Theater, Hound of the Baskervilles - Arrow Rock Lyceum), Finn Faulconer (Finding Neverland - 1st National Tour), Matt Harrington (Matilda - Broadway, 1st National Tour, Twelfth Night, Richard III - Shakespeare's Globe, Harvey - Roundabout Theatre Company), Kareem Lucas (Sole Variations, Walden: Life in the Woods), Kate MacCluggage (Ironbound - Kitchen Theatre Company), Jason O'Connell (Sense & Sensibility - Bedlam), and Charlotte Wise as Wanda June.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE takes a searing and darkly comedic look at American culture through the brilliantly perverse lens of Kurt Vonnegut. After being presumed dead for eight years, respected war veteran and big game hunter, Harold Ryan, returns home and brings with him an old way of thinking, celebrating a Hemingway-esque machismo and American exceptionalism. Harold soon discovers that the society he returns to has made attempts to progress into a more modern, enlightened cultural narrative. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE is a dynamic and often hilarious meditation on toxic masculinity and a capitalistic America's failed attempts at progress cloaked in honor and morality. Simply put, and as the first few lines of the play state, this is a play about men who enjoy killing, and those who don't.
According to Director Jeffrey Wise, "Harold Ryan, the play's protagonist, represents much more than just an overly masculine male energy. He represents a capitalist culture, where "progress" is measured in a linear fashion, based on a certain level of calculable progress and growth. Harold's behavior, and treatment of virtually anyone he comes in contact with, is a sickness that so insidiously spreads among our culture, and we see it today, more potent than ever, some 48 years after this play was penned. It's a toxic celebration of death, destruction and domination cloaked in "heroism" and "American democratic values."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE first premiered off-Broadway at the Theater de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel) on October 7, 1970, was restaged at the Edison Theatre on Broadway, starring Marsha Mason and Kevin McCarthy and opened December 22, 1970.
Scenic Design is by Brittany Vasta, Lighting Design is by Drew Florida, Costume Design is by Christopher Metzger, Sound Design is by Mark Van Hare. The Production Stage Manager is Paula R. Clarkson, Press Representative is Daniel DeMello / DDPR, Production Management is by Drew Francis, and the General Manager/Executive Producer is Visceral Entertainment - Michael Chase Gosselin, Tim Sulka (Off-Broadway - Endangered!, The First Annual Trump Family Special, Midnight at The Never Get).
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. is considered one of the most influential American novelists of the 20th Century and is best known for the novels Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions.Vonnegut's first play, Happy Birthday, Wanda June, had him named Most Promising Playwright. When asked about the origin of the idea for Wanda June, Vonnegut has written: "I once led a Great Books Study Group on Cape Cod and we read and discussed Homer's Odyssey. I found the behavior of Odysseus after arriving home unexpectedly from the Trojan War hilariously pig-headed and somehow Hemingway-esque. And then I remembered the blowhard father of a girl I dated in high school, who had heard of huge rubies to be found in the Amazon Rain Forest, and wanted to quit his job and go look for them. The rest is history."
Jeff Wise (Artistic Director, Founding Company Member) is a Tony Award-Winning producer, director, actor, and founder of Wheelhouse Theater Company. For Wheelhouse, Jeff has directed Ibsens' An Enemy of the People, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar and the world premiere of DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICAby Lawrence Dial. He co-produced the critically acclaimed world premiere In the Room with Slant Theatre Project. Jeff also produced the critically acclaimed revival of Once on this Island on Broadway. In NYC he has directed productions of Henry IV Part 2, Hamlet, BACK, and Dear Penthouse. Stage credits include Hamlet, Lend me a Tenor, Pajama Game, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, BACK, Three Sisters, Six Degrees of Separation, Bus Stop, and La Ronde. Jeff received his MFA in Acting from New York University.
Performances of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE through October 30th are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm and Sunday at 7pm. Performances November 1st through 20th are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Thursday and Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Performances after November 20th: 11/21 at 8pm, 11/23 at 8pm, 11/24 at 2pm & 8pm, 11/25 at 2pm & 7pm, 11/26 at 8pm, 11/27 at 8pm, 11/28 at 2pm & 8pm, and 11/29 at 8pm.
Tickets will go on sale on September 12, 2018 at wheelhousetheater.org. Tickets are priced $49 - $109.