University of the Arts Premieres Innaurato's Adaptation of Marriage of Figaro 10/21-25
The author of the longest-running Broadway comedy of the past fifty years, Albert Innaurato, has uncapped his pen to adapt one of his favorite plays, Beaumarchais' The Marriage of Figaro, and will direct a staged reading of his newest work under the auspices of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts in the Caplan Studio Theater, 211 S. Broad St., on October 21-25, 2010.
Innaurato, a native of Philadelphia and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of the Arts, is best known as the author of Gemini, a comic coming-out tale set in South Philly that ran for 1,819 performances on Broadway in the late 1970's and earned its author an Obie Award. (A musical adaptation of Gemini was produced at the Prince Music Theater in 2003 and was seen in the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2007.) Innaurato's other works for the stage include The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie, Coming of Age in Soho, Passione and Gus and Al, and he has worked with such notable theaters as Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater and Lincoln Center Theater. He collaborated with Christopher Durang, his classmate at Yale School of Drama, on The Idiots Karamazov, and as a journalist and scholar, he has contributed to the New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York, Forbes, Newsday, Opera News and the programs of Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
It is difficult to imagine a more felicitous pairing of author and subject than Innaurato and Figaro. The playwright was intimately familiar with Beaumarchais' play, which was not only one of the most significant comedies of its day but the source of the libretto for Mozart's immortal opera of the same name. The play's irreverent tone provoked the ire of the ruling aristocracy in its day, and Innaurato's plays have also ruffled plenty of feathers with their outrageous humor, graphic language and blasphemous outbursts. "Albert is a great friend and collaborator, and I knew this project would be right in his wheelhouse," comments Charles Gilbert, Director of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts.
Speaking of his debt to Beaumarchais, Innaurato observes, "I owe him one. He probably wouldn't have wanted someone to appropriate some aspects of his work and his character names and then go crazy in their own way. On the other hand he was a wild gambler himself and maybe I'd have gotten a grudging blessing from him."
Playing the title role of Figaro is Andrew Carroll, a junior in the Brind School's Acting program. His beloved, Susanne, is played by Adrienne Brown, a junior in the Musical Theater Program. His nemesis, the Count Almaviva, is played by Will Swanwick, a Musical Theater Sophomore, while Claudia Newland, a Musical Theater Junior, plays the Countess. Other principal cast members include Robin Stift as the young Cherubin, Liam Phillips as the aging doyenne Marzelline, and Chris Linsey as Doctor Bartolo.
Innaurato had the opportunity to write the roles in his adaptation with this cast of young actors in mind, and has spent considerable time in rehearsals shaping the roles to the personalities and abilities of his cast. He observes, "Knowing that Figaro and The Count would be very young provided an impetus to write a play partly about finding some truths about life as people live it. Figaro is really in love for the first time and thus vulnerable, frightened and at risk in ways he has never known before. And the self-indulgent Count also comes to realize what it means to truly love someone -- someone he has taken for granted out of immaturity and sexual opportunism. The challenge was trying to make this 'coming of age' circumstance real within a comic style. It was great to know the two young men and I've had the benefit of their being willing to offer their insights and input for me to use. In the best days of spoken theater playwrights wrote for specific actors, and I was able to do that with all the roles."
"The Marriage of Figaro" will be performed Thursday, October 21 through Sunday, October 25, with performances at 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. The Caplan Studio Theater is located on the 16th floor of 211 S. Broad St. (Broad and Walnut Sts.) on the Avenue of the Arts. General admission tickets are $5.00 for the general public and free to members of the UArts community; they can be purchased online at uarts.ticketleap.com. For more information about the Brind School and its 2010-11 season of productions, visit www.uarts.edu/brindschool or www.brindschool.org.
The University of the Arts is the nation's first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing and communication arts. Its 2,400 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. The institution's roots as a leader in educating creative individuals date back to 1868.