PICT Announces Local Actors, Designers Return For '09 Season
Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre has assembled a team of more than 100 world-class artists, including popular Pittsburgh actors Helena Ruoti and Martin Giles, and New Yorkers Sam Tsoutsouvas and Sam Redford. Former Pittsburgh residents returning to work with PICT this season include designer Pei-Chi Su, actors Doug Rees, Kate Young, Alex Cole, Jarid Faubel, and Meghan Heimbecker, and director Jeffrey M. Cordell.
PICT kicks off the 2009 season with Tom Stoppard's Tony- and Olivier-Award-winning Rock'n'Roll, featuring a cast of 12 top-notch actors. British actor Sam Redford makes his PICT debut as Jan, the Czech scholar. Redford has been seen locally in City Theatre's productions of The Seafarer and Mother Teresa is Dead. PICT alum Sam Tsoutsouvas returns to Pittsburgh to play the Cambridge professor and noted Communist Max Morrow. Tsoutsouvas' previous PICT credits include Heartbreak House and Henry IV. He was also seen last season in the Pittsburgh Public Theatre's production of Caryl Churchill's A Number.
Two of Pittsburgh's most beloved resident actors, Helena Ruoti and Martin Giles, also feature prominently in the Rock ‘n' Roll cast. Giles, who plays Milan, starred in PICT's 2008 production of Conor McPherson's one-man show St. Nicholas. He also directed The Well of the Saints and acted in multiple productions in PICT's Synge Cycle. Ruoti plays the roles of Eleanor and her daughter Esme. She returns to the company after playing Goneril in PICT's critically-acclaimed 2008 production of King Lear. Other Lear cast members appearing in Rock ‘n' Roll include Jarrod DiGiorgi as Ferdinand and Simon Bradbury as Nigel. Tami Dixon appears in her first PICT production as Lenka. Dixon is the Producing Artistic Director for Bricolage, and was recently seen in the Pittsburgh Public Theatre production of Metamorphoses. The cast also includes Anwen Darcy (An Ideal Husband), and PICT newcomers Valentina Benrexi, Gabriel King, Joshua D. Kiley and Diana Ifft.
The rock concert-inspired set, featuring still and film projection, is designed by CMU faculty member Narelle Sissons. Projections are designed by Jessi Sedon, lighting by Jim French, costumes by Erin Collins Rittling, and sound by Elizabeth Atkinson. The soundtrack evokes the spirit and time period of the play, and incorporates the music of Syd Barrett, early Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, U2, and others. Rock ‘n' Roll plays May 7th - 30th in the intimate Henry Heymann Theatre. PICT Producing Artistic Director Andrew S. Paul directs.
In conjunction with Rock ‘n' Roll, PICT brings back the popular Storytellers Series with readings of five of Václav Havel's brilliant comedies about life under Communism. Performed in three evenings by the Rock ‘n' Roll company, the shows begin at 7 p.m. in the Henry Heymann Theatre and are followed by discussions with the artists. Largo Desolato will be performed on April 26th, The Vanek Plays (3 witty one-acts) will be performed on May 17, and Temptation on May 24th.
PICT is also hosting two free panel discussions in conjunction with the Stoppard and Havel plays. "Politics and Art in the Former Czechoslovakia" will be held on April 26, following the 7:00 p.m. reading of Largo Desolato. Panelists include Gina Peirce, Assistant Director of the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and Martin Votruba, Ph.d., Senior Lecturer in the Slovak Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. "Communism, Capitalism, Socialism: Theory and Practice" will be held on May 23rd at 5:00 p.m. following the matinee of Rock ‘n' Roll. Panelists include James Burnham, Ph. D., of Duquesne University's Donahue School of Business and Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, and Julia Gray, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
In June, Simon Bradbury will make his PICT directorial debut with Joe Orton's classic comedy What the Butler Saw. . Seductions, cross-dressing, mistaken identity, infidelity and blackmail make Butler a fast-paced, hilarious two-hour romp! The trouble begins when a middle-aged psychiatrist convinces an attractive young woman to undress as part of a job interview. When his wife shows up, extreme measures are taken to keep the women apart and in the dark!
An internationally-renowned actor, Bradbury was a member of the acting company at the Shaw Festival for sixteen years, and spent four years at the Stratford Festival. Bradbury's acting credits with PICT include The Pillowman, Endgame, The Shaughraun, and King Lear. Ruoti follows up her turn in Rock ‘n' Roll as the frigid Mrs. Prentice. No stranger to Orton's brilliant comedy, she made her professional debut in the role of Geraldine Barclay under the direction of Alan Schneider. Former Pittsburgh actor Doug Rees, returning to PICT for the first time since the 2006 production of The School for Scandal, plays Ruoti's husband, the harried psychiatrist Dr. Prentice. Giles plays the lunatic bureaucrat Dr. Rance. Amanda Jane Cooper, a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, plays the underwear-clad Geraldine Barclay in this production, and making their PICT debuts in Butler are Jeffrey Carpenter as Sergeant Match and Sam Trussell as the randy bellhop Nicholas Beckett.
Pei-Chi Su returns to Pittsburgh to design the costumes. The set is by Gianni Downs (PICT resident scenic designer for summer 2009), lighting by Andrew David Ostrowski, and sound by Elizabeth Atkinson. The show plays June 11-27 in The Charity Randall Theatre.
John Patrick Shanley's Doubt will be performed July 9-August 1 in the Henry Heymann Theatre and is directed by Jeffrey M. Cordell (PICT's Boston Marriage and Private Lives). Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play, Doubt centers on a hard-edged nun who grows suspicious of the attention a young priest is paying to a new student. Her obsessive, single-minded pursuit of his confession clouds her ability to analyze the situation rationally or consider the possibility of his innocence.
The superlative cast features PICT alum Kate Young, who returns to Pittsburgh from Chicago to play Sister Aloysius. Her previous PICT credits include Salome, Endgame, James Joyce's The Dead, and Faith Healer. David Whalen, who recently relocated to Pittsburgh from New York, plays Father Flynn. Whalen's PICT credits include Stuff Happens, Julius Caesar, Pride and Prejudice, King Lear, and An Ideal Husband. Local audiences have also seen Whalen in the City Theatre production of Opus, and he will be featured in their May 2009 production of Speak American. Maria Becoates-Bey and Point Park graduate Megan Heimbecker make their PICT debuts as Mrs. Muller and Sister James.
In conjunction with Doubt, PICT will host the panel discussion "Issues of Doubt and Faith," featuring leaders in the local religious community. Details are forthcoming and will be available on the PICT website, www.picttheatre.org.
Paul also directs Alan Bennett's The History Boys in its Pittsburgh professional premiere. A sold-out hit at the National Theatre of Great Britain and on Broadway, this brilliant comedy follows the senior year of eight bright, unruly students as they try to crack admission to Oxford and Cambridge.
Bernard Cuffling, who starred as Hector in the Canadian Premier in Vancouver last year, will reprise his acclaimed portrayal, with Chicago star Linda Kimbrough (PICT's Pride and Prejudice) as Mrs. Lintott. Sam Redford from the cast of Rock ‘n' Roll will return to PICT to play the young teacher Irwin. The eight boys include recent Carnegie Mellon University grads Alex Cole as Dakin and Jarid Faubel as Rudge. Cole made his Broadway debut in the recent production of A Man for All Seasons, featuring Frank Langella. Faubel was featured in the Royal Shakespeare Company's world premiere of Le Grande Meaulnes, and The Three Sisters at Moscow Art Theatre. The cast also includes Point Park University's John Wascavage as Posner, Allegheny College's Corey O'Connor as Timms (reprising the role he played in the Little Lake Theatre production), and Ohio University graduate Andy Lutz , who recently appeared with Cole in A Man for All Seasons, as Scripps. Current CMU students Arya Arabshahi, Ethan Saks, and Eric Berryman complete the cast of boys. James FitzGerald (PICT's Pride and Prejudice and Salome) joins Giles and Redford in the ensemble. The scenic design is by Gianni Downs, with lighting by Jim French, sound by Elizabeth Atkinson, and costumes by Pei-Chi Su. The History Boys plays August 6-22 in The Charity Randall Theatre.
In conjunction with The History Boys, PICT will host the free panel discussion "The Nature and Purpose of Education Today," featuring leaders in the local education community. Details are forthcoming and will be available on the PICT website, www.picttheatre.org.