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Michael John Casey, Maggie Donnelly & More to Star in THE GIFT OF NOTHING at Kennedy Center; Aaron Posner to Direct


The Kennedy Center presents the world premiere production of The Gift of Nothing from November 22 to December 28, 2014 in the Family Theater. Commissioned by the Kennedy Center, the production is based on the New York Times bestselling book by Patrick McDonnell, adapted by Patrick McDonnell, Aaron Posner, and Erin Weaver and features music and lyrics by Andy Mitton with direction by Aaron Posner and associate direction (movement) by Erika Chong Shuch. The press opening performance is Saturday, November 22 at 4 p.m. This family-friendly theatrical production is recommended for ages 4 and up.

The cast features Michael John Casey as Frank, Maggie Donnelly as Earl, Sakile Lyles as Doozy, Joseph Patrick O'Malley as Ozzie, Nickolas Vaughan as Mooch, and Rachel Zampelli as Millie. Casting also includes Stephen Russell Murray and Nora Palka.

Mooch, a charming and curious cat, wants to get the "purr-fect" holiday gift for his best friend Earl, a loveable pup. But Earl already seems to have all he needs: a bowl, a bed, and a squeaky chew toy. So what do you get someone who has everything? Well, nothing, of course! Based on characters in the beloved internationally syndicated comic strip MUTTS, this world premiere musical adaptation of Patrick McDonnell's The Gift of Nothing follows Mooch's frantic and hilarious search to find Earl absolutely nothing-which always turns out to be something! Join the delightful duo, along with their owners Millie and Ozzie, cantankerous Frank, adorable Doozy, and an onstage pianist for this festive and heartwarming adventure.

Patrick McDonnell is the creator of the comic strip MUTTS, which appears in more than 700 newspapers around the globe. He has received numerous awards internationally, including the National Cartoonists Society's highest honor, The Reuben. MUTTS has been published in 24 compilation books in the U.S. and in numerous collections throughout the world. The Gift of Nothing was his first children's book, and it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. He has since produced seven additional children's books (including the 2012 Caldecott Honor-winning Me...Jane). McDonnell has collaborated with author Eckhart Tolle on Guardians of Being. McDonnell has appeared on CNN, The Today Show, PBS, and the Oprah Winfrey Network. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, and the Charles M. Schulz Museum. His MUTTS characters have been enlisted by the United States Marines (Toys for Tots), and the American Library Association ('Read!'). They appear on New Jersey Animal Friendly license plates and in animated Public Service Announcements for The Shelter Pet Project. His work has also been animated for a P.S.A. for the New York Philharmonic. MUTTS is currently under development as an animated feature-length film for Twentieth Century Fox.

Aaron Posner is a Helen Hayes and Barrymore Award winning director and playwright. He is a founder and former Artistic Director of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre, an Associate Artist at both the Folger Theatre and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and has directed at major regional theaters from coast to coast including the Folger, Seattle Rep, Portland Center Stage, The Alliance, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, California Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Roundhouse Theatre, Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, Theatre J, American Player's Theatre, and many more. His adaptations include Chaim Potok's The Chosen and My Name Is Asher Lev (both of which have enjoyed successful runs at more than 50 other theaters across the country and the latter of which ran for 10 months Off-Broadway in 2012-2013 and won both the Outer Circle Critics Award for Best New Off-Broadway play and the John Gassner Award), as well as Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, Mark Twain's A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage, an adaptation of three Kurt Vonnegut short stories, entitled Who Am I This Time? (and other conundrums of love). His Chekhov-inspired Stupid F***ing Bird debuted at Woolly Mammoth and received eight Helen Hayes nominations. Posner was raised in Eugene, Oregon, graduated from Northwestern University, is an Eisenhower Fellow, and lives near Washington, D.C.

Originally from the Boston area and a resident of Los Angeles since 2001, Andy Mitton is a writer, composer, director, editor, and designer across multiple mediums, but his primary focuses are the disparate worlds of horror movies and musical theater. His independent film YellowBrickRoad, co-written and co-directed with Jesse Holland, premiered at the Slamdance International Film Festival in 2010, and won Best Feature at that year's New York Horror Film Festival. Their newest film, We Go On, a supernatural thriller starring Annette O'Toole, is now in post-production. Mitton's first stage musical as composer, Swing State: A Musical Fable, with book and lyrics by Dana Yeaton, was produced at New York City's 45th Street Theatre as a part of the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival. Credits at Los Angeles Theater include Lucid Sound (playwright, composer, pianist), Neal Bell's Monster (director, composer, sound designer), The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (director, songwriter, performer), One Flea Spare (composer). Andy is also a regularly performing singer, songwriter, pianist, and guitarist, most notably with his rock group The Real D'Coy. Mitton has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Middlebury College in Vermont, and has returned twice as a staff member and visiting director. He lives in Santa Monica with his wife, Laura, and his two cats, Rory and Smush.

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