PICT Classic Theatre Presents Charles Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Now thru 12/20

On the heels of the most-attended production in PICT's 18-year history, PICT Classic Theatre presents Charles Dickens' Great Expectations from tonight, December 4 - 20 at the Stephen Foster Memorial in Oakland. The final production before PICT's 2015 Downtown Series, Great Expectations concludes the year with an adored classic, perfect for the holiday season, which evokes feelings of nostalgia for countless readers worldwide.

This play was selected because, "It is a good time of the year to tell a moral tale that begins on Christmas morning," according to PICT's Artistic and Executive Director, Alan Stanford, who will direct Great Expectations. It will be the fourth production that he has directed for the company this year.

"We selected this particular version because it is one of the most perfect examples of an adaptation from a novel to a drama, by one of the great masters of adaptation, Hugh Leonard," explains Stanford- a huge compliment considering Stanford's own achievements in writing adaptations. His adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was such an enormous success at The Gate Theatre in Dublin in early 2014 that it was re-staged to great acclaim in August. Pittsburgh audiences can also see Stanford's adaptation of Dickens' Oliver Twist on the PICT stage in December, 2015.

As Pittsburgh's classic theatre, it is only appropriate that PICT would present Dickens' best literary masterpieces during a time of the year that is typically dominated by holiday favorites. About Great Expectations, Stanford claims, "It's a classic, not only because it was written by the greatest storyteller of all time, but because it is that journey of discovery that we all take to find out who we truly are. In Pip's case, the hero of this story, his journey is to discover the true nature of a gentleman."

And what a journey it is! From a humble blacksmith's forge to the great mansion of the wicked Miss Havisham to the streets and houses of Victorian London, and even onto a boat on the River Thames, Pip's journey will whisk audiences away on an all-too-relatable trek to find one's place in the world. All of this will be portrayed at PICT through the magic of theatre and the audience's imaginations.

It is the end of Pip's journey, however, that has been a matter of debate for well over a century. After sharing his final chapters with a friend, Dickens famously re-wrote the ending of Great Expectations so that it would be more satisfying to the average reader. While it is not confirmed which ending PICT will present this December, audiences can be assured that they will be satisfied by the clever staging, the versatile cast and the overall excellence of PICT's production.

Pip's world is turned upside-down when he receives news that a wealthy benefactor has left him a large fortune. An orphan boy who was training to become a blacksmith, Pip finds he must move to London immediately to begin his education as a gentleman.

Playing this would-be-gentleman is Dylan Marquis Meyers, who appeared most recently in Macbeth and Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme at PICT. A recent graduate of The University of Pittsburgh as a Senior Theatre Arts Major, he was also seen in PICT's Lady Windermere's Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest. Dylan has performed at UP Stages, Oakland Shakespeare Company, OSC and Band of Brothers Shakespeare.

Elliot Pullen and Simon Colker will share the role of Young Pip. Simon is an eighth-grade theatre major at Pittsburgh CAPA, and Elliot is a home-scooled seventh grader from Mt. Lebanon. Elliot, who was recently seen as The Boy in PICT's production of Waiting for Godot exclaims, "I'm excited to work on another show at PICT and to get to work with a big set and lots of props, unlike Godot, and with more kids! And working with Alan as a director is great, just like working with him as an actor."

One of the most memorable scenes in Great Expectations occurs when Pip goes to the house of the vengeful Miss Havisham, who wears an old wedding dress and has developed a hatred for all men. During his time there, he meets the lovely Estella and wishes that he could become a gentleman so that he can be worthy of her.

PICT is thrilled to welcome Mary Rawson, who will play the wicked Miss Havisham after her delightful performance as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit in May. Mary has appeared previously at PICT in House and Garden, An Ideal Husband, Copenhagen and The Seagull. People may recognize her from her long-standing role as Cousin Mary in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but she is also known as the 2012 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Performer of the Year for her role as Violet in August Osage County for Playhouse Rep. Other recent performances include Aiofe in Outside Mullingar at City Theatre and Mom in True West at Pittsburgh Public Theater.

The role of the beautiful Estella will be played by Lily Davis, who recently played one of the weird sisters in PICT's production of Macbeth. Like Dylan, Lily is also a recent graduate, but from Point Park University. She was seen on the PICT stage last summer as Mrs. Cowper in Lady Windermere's Fan. Lily lives in New York City and has performed with Ocean Professional Theatre Company on the Jersey Shore.

Sharing the role of Young Estella are Charity Hipple and Carolyn Jerz. Charity is a freshman at Saltsburg High School and Carolyn is a twelve-year-old homeschooler from Greensburg. Both actresses have extensive experience with various community theatres in Western PA.

PICT will also welcome the 2014 featured artists, Karen Baum and James FitzGerald, as well as a 2015 featured artist, Martin Giles.

After her portrayal of Hecate in Macbeth, Karen will now take on the contrasting roles of Mrs. Joe and Biddy. Other memorable PICT performances include Edith in Blithe Spirit and Scarecrow in Woman and Scarecrow, Cordelia in King Lear, the maid in Boston Marriage, and multiple roles in PICT's 2013 production of Don Juan Comes Back from the War.

James will be portraying Wemmick. For PICT, he most recently played Ross in Macbeth, Him in Woman and Scarecrow, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and Dr. Bradman in Blithe Spirit. Other Pittsburgh appearances include Charles Ives, Take Me Home at City Theatre, End of the Affair and Mouth-to-Mouth at Quantum Theater, and Our Town, Midsummer Night's Dream, 1776, The Royal Family and Born Yesterday at Pittsburgh Public Theater. James has performed sixteen seasons with Chicago Shakespeare Theater in addition to many other Chicago and off-Broadway credits, most notably Rose Rage directed by Edward Hall. He is also the recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards (Best Supporting Actor), a Jeff Citation (Best Actor), and an OE Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Martin Giles is in his thirteenth year at PICT, and will play Joe Gargery. Some of his popular PICT credits include Gogo in Waiting for Godot, The Kreutzer Sonata, The School for Lies and Ivanov and Afterplay in the Chekhov Celebration. He was also seen last year at Quantum Theater, where he directed John Gabriel Borkman and Parlour Song and acted in Dream of Autumn.

Many more PICT veterans will take to the stage for Great Expectations, including David Whalen, Ken Bolden, Jordan Ross Weinhold, Larry John Meyers and Mark Conway Thompson.

David Whalen, who recently played the title role in Macbeth, returns for his ninth season and twenty-second production at PICT. Continuing to live up to his title as former Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he recently appeared in Of Mice and Men for The Rep. He has also appeared locally at Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, Quantum Theatre and barebones productions, where he played Joey in A Steady Rain and directed Take Me Out. He has played leading roles across the country, in Europe, and in New York. Audiences world-wide may recognize him from the recent films The Fault in Our Stars and Jack Reacher.

Ken Bolden is in his fourth season with PICT, where he has performed as Basil Halliward in The Picture of Dorian Grey, ensemble in Julius Caesar, Mardian in Anthony and Cleopatra, Major Ross in Sherlock Holmes and the Crucifer of Blood, and he most recently appeared as Lucky in Waiting for Godot. Locally, he has appeared at The Public Theatre, Quantum Theater, barebones, Bricolage, City Theatre, Off the Wall and the Rep. Audiences will recognize him as the bank manager in the upcoming Russell Crowe film, Fathers and Daughters.

Returning to play Herbert Pocket after his 2013 performance as Guy Berkeley in Lady Windermere's Fan, Jordan Ross Weinhold is in his second season at PICT. A Point Park University Grad, Jordan is an actor, music arranger and orchestrator.

Long-time PICT veteran, Larry John Meyers, returns for his twelfth season at PICT. Past PICT productions include The Pitmen Painters and The Chekhov Celebration. This past year, he has performed at Quantum Theater in Pittsburgh, Florida Rep in Fort Meyers, Chester Theatre in Massachusetts and Centre Stage in State College.

After acting as fight choreographer for Macbeth, Mark Conway Thompson returns to take on the role of the Aged Parent in Great Expectations. Mark last acted at PICT in Julius Caesar, but worked as a movement consultant on Salome and Our Class.

Making their PICT debuts are Joe Godley and Linda Froehlich. Joe has also been seen in Pittsburgh at NoName Players, barebones and the Pittsburgh Playhouse, but Linda is new to Pittsburgh. Linda has performed in various Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in addition to many television appearances including Saturday Night Live, All My Children, Law and Order, The Cosby Show and New Jack City.

The artistic team for this production includes scene design by Michael Essad, costume design by Joan Markert (PICT's 2014 Anne D. Mullaney Award recipient), sound design by Steve Shapiro and lighting design by Andrew Ostrowski.

Special Events:

- Opening Night reception following the December 6 performance at 8pm. at The Porch (Free to ticketholders for the December 6 performance.)

- Post-Show Talkback: Discussion and Q&A follow December 7 performance

- Early Tuesday Happy Hour with free pizza at Olio Trattoria prior to the December 9 show (Free to ticketholders for October 14 performance.)

- Pre-show lecture by the Artistic & Executive Director Alan Stanford from 7:00 to 7:30 before the December 10 performance. (Free and open to the public.)

- 10 a.m. student matinees on Wednesday, December 3, and Tuesday, December 16

- What's the BIG DEAL... about Great Expectations? A special package combining dinner, conversation to enhance your show experience and your seat at the performance on Thursday, December 18.

- American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation available Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 2pm matinee. (Ticket for performance required.)

PICT Classic Theatre (formerly known as Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre) is one of a handful of theatres in the U.S. still producing large cast, classic plays, preserving and promoting an important body of creative work. Operating on a budget of $1.2 million dollars, the company employs between 90-100 theatre artists, production technicians and artisans each year that participate in the production and presentation of classical theatre and the works of classical and contemporary Irish playwrights. The organization believes classic theatre is relevant to modern life, bringing context and meaning to people's lives, and is committed to a civic role through its education and outreach programs for seniors and young people, as well as enhancing the accessibility of its programming to reach diverse audiences. PICT Classic Theatre is a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) affiliated with Actors' Equity Association, a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and proud member of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. PICT Classic Theatre performs in The Charity Randall and Henry Heymann Theatres inside the Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Oakland all year round. Visit picttheatre.org or call 412-561-6000 for tickets and more information.




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