Wheelhouse Theater Company to Stage Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE

Wheelhouse Theater Company to Stage 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 the company will stage Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s rarely produced HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE April 7 - April 28, 2018 at the Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street in Manhattan. The play offers up dynamic and often hilarious insight into a capitalist society's attempts to make socio-cultural progress in a world often polarized by its moral and political outrage...or lack thereof. Jeffrey Wise will direct the production that will run through Saturday, April 28th The official opening is set for Saturday, April 14th at 7PM. For more information, visit http://www.wheelhouse.theater

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.

The cast of HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE features Jason O'Connell (Sense & Sensibility - Bedlam, Pride and Prejudice - Primary Stages, The Dork Knight - Abingdon Theatre Company), Kate MacCluggage (Ironbound -Kitchen Theatre Company), Finn Faulconer (Finding Neverland - 1st National Tour), Craig Wesley Divino (Founder Faultline Theater, Hound of the Baskervilles - Arrow Rock Lyceum, Noises Off - Chautauqua Theatre Co.), Kareem Lucas (Sole Variations, Walden: Life in the Woods), Matt Harrington (Matilda - Broadway, 1st National Tour, Twelfth Night, Richard III (Shakespeare's Globe) Harvey (Roundabout Theatre Company), and Charlotte Wise as Wanda June.

Scenic Design is by Brittany Vasta, Lighting Design is by Andrew Florida, Costume Design is by Christopher Metzger, Sound Design is by Mark Van Hare. The Production Stage Manager is Tim Love, Press Representative isDaniel DeMello / DDPR and General Management is by Visceral Entertainment - Michael Chase Gosselin, Tim Sulka (Off-Broadway - Endangered!, Money Talks, Regional - Midnight at The Never Get). Additional Casting byGreg Uliasz, CSA (The Lighting Thief, Sweetee, Endangered!) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

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 forWanda 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 an actor, director, producer 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 DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA by 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 are on Saturday, April 7th at 7pm; Tuesday, April 10th at 7pm; Wednesday, April 11th at 7pm;Thursday, April 12th at 7pm; Friday, April 13th at 2pm.; Sunday, April 15th at 3pm; Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm;Thursday, April 19th at 7pm; Friday, April 20th at 7pm; Saturday, April 21st at 7pm; Sunday, April 22nd at 3pm;Monday, April 23rd at 7pm; Thursday, April 26th at 7pm; Friday, April 27th at 7pm; Saturday, April 28th at 2pm;Saturday, April 28th at 7pm.

***Ticketing information is soon to be announced.***

About Wheelhouse Theater Company

In 2009, NYU Grad Acting classmates Jeffrey Wise, Matt Harrington and David Kenner joined together to create and produce BACK, loosely based on Shaw's Back to Methuselah. This production team would later be joined by Michael Schantz to form the genesis of Wheelhouse Theater Company, a process-oriented company driven by a collective curiosity. As artist citizens, Wheelhouse aims to respond to the world through classic, new and devised plays in order to distill socially relevant issues to their essence.

From its official inception in February 2016, Wheelhouse, under Artistic Director Jeffrey Wise, has produced JuliusCaesar, Romeo and Juliet and the World Premiere of Lawrence Dial's In the Room (in collaboration with the Slant Theatre Project), which the NY Times hailed as "solidly smart... thoroughly transporting." In 2017, Wheelhouse again produced the World Premiere of Dial's DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA followed by Ibsen's masterpiece An Enemy of the People, both to critical acclaim.

Photo: Cast of Happy Birthday, Wanda June L to R: Craig Wesley Divino, Finn Faulconer, Jason O'Connell, Kate MacCluggage, Matt Harrington, Kareem Lucas, Charlotte Wise (front) - Photo Credit: Connor Delves


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