Arden Theatre Company Presents Ghost-Writer 9/9-14

By: Aug. 11, 2010

Arden Theatre Company opens its 2010/11 season with the world premiere of Michael Hollinger's Ghost-Writer. This marks the seventh Hollinger premiere at the Arden, and the first since Opus in 2006, which received the Barrymore Award for Best New Play and was one of the top ten most-produced plays in American regional theatre during the 2009/10 season.

In Ghost-Writer, novelist Franklin Woolsey dies mid-sentence, but his secretary Myra continues to take dictation. Attacked by skeptics, the press and Woolsey's jealous widow, Myra sets out to prove she is more than just an artful forger. Is she trying to steal Woolsey's legacy now that she cannot have his love, or might she truly possess a gift the world can't understand? This restrained love story takes place in New York City in 1919, at a time when women were first becoming secretaries, but didn't have the vote; novelists held on to their 19th century success as the foremost form of entertainment; and an artist's slight touch on the arm of his muse is more thrilling than a kiss.

The Arden has a sixteen-year history of producing Hollinger's new work, which started in the 1994 with An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf. "Michael and the Arden have grown together," says Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen. "We've developed more of his plays than any other writer, so it is only fitting that this new work begins our 2010/11 season, a year in which we will introduce three new plays to Philadelphia audiences."

In creating Ghost-Writer, Hollinger asks the question: where do ideas come from? "This story hits close to home because I am a writer," Hollinger says. "I've found that the most important work often happens unconsciously, so I was intrigued by the act of creation and the mystical aspects of the process. With each of my plays, I've tried to explore new theatrical forms, themes and time periods, something my long-term artistic relationship with the Arden has allowed me to do."

The cast features Philadelphia actress Megan Bellwoar as Myra Babbage. Her previous Arden credits include Dancing at Lughnasa, The Weir, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Translations. Bellwoar and playwright Hollinger are married, and Ghost-Writer marks Bellwoar's first appearance in one of Hollinger's works. Directing Ghost-Writer is James J. Christy, who was recently nominated for a Barrymore for his direction of Rabbit Hole at the Arden. Christy has a long-standing relationship with both Bellwoar and Hollinger that dates back to their graduate studies at Villanova University where he was their teacher and mentor. Christy has since directed Bellwoar in Translations and The Weir at the Arden had has directed Hollinger's An Empty Plate at Access Theatre in new York and Red Herring at Actors' Theatre of Louisville.

Also in the cast is Doug Rees, who plays Franklin Woolsey, and appeared in the Arden's productions of An Empty Plate and Opus, as well as Opus' acclaimed Off-Broadway production. New York based actress Patricia Hodges makes her Arden debut as Vivian Woolsey. The design team includes Set Designer David Gordon, who has designed Hollinger's plays Incorruptible and Tiny Island, designer Charlotte Chloe Fox Wind (recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Theatre Artists and former Arden Professional Apprentice), lighting designer Jerold R. Forsyth (An Empty Plate, 2007), and sound designer Jorge Cousineau, winner of the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Sound Design of Opus.

The final dress rehearsal of Ghost-Writer on Wednesday, September at 8pm is open to the public as a Pay-What-You-Can performance, with all proceeds collected donated to the Sue Winge Marketing Internship, which is administered collaboratively by Villanova's Theatre Department and the Arden, and was established in memory of Sue Winge, a former employee of both companies, who died in March 2009.

Ghost-Writer previews begin on Thursday, September 9. Preview performances run September 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14. Opening night is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 15. Closing is set for Sunday, November 7, 2010.

Single ticket prices are $29- $48, with discounts available for seniors, students, military and educators. Groups of 10+ enjoy significant discounts; please inquire about group rates. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, order online at, or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.

The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122.