The World Premiere Of 'THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN' 12/4

Article Pixel

The Kennedy Center presents the world premiere of The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony based on the book by E.B. White, adapted for the stage by Marsha Norman, with music by Jason Robert Brown, and direction by Gary Griffin.  The production features a 35-piece orchestra conducted by Jason Robert BrownTrumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony is part of a season-long initiative Broadway: The Third Generation, celebrating the current generation of Broadway musical composers, and will appear for five performances in the Eisenhower Theater December 4-6, 2008.  The theatrical adaptation is recommended for audiences aged seven and up.

      The Kennedy Center-commissioned theatrical adaptation stars Oscar®-winning actress Kathy Bates, Zayd Dohrn, Edward Gero, Lauren Kennedy, Peggity Price, Richard Thomas, and Fred Willard.  The role of Louie will be played by trumpet player Chris Venditti. 

      Based on the popular children’s novel by E.B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony tells the story of Louie, a young trumpeter swan who is born without a voice.  But his human friend Sam takes him to school to learn to read, and his father finds him a trumpet to serve as his voice, so Louie sets off in search of adventure and love. 

      Playwright Marsha Norman is the winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize, Blackburn Prize, Hull-Warriner, and Drama Desk Awards for her play ‘night, Mother.  In 1992 she won a Tony Award® and a Drama Desk Award for her book for The Secret Garden.  Other credits include the book The Color Purple, and plays such as Getting Out, Third And Oak: The Laundromat, The Pool Hall, The Holdup, Traveler In The Dark, Sarah And Abraham,  Loving Daniel Boone, Trudy Blue, and Last Dance. Her television and film credits include ‘night, Mother, The Laundromat, The Pool Hall, Face of a Stranger, Cooler Climate, Audrey Hepburn, Custody of the Heart, and most recently, Samantha, An American Girl Holiday.    

      Composer Jason Robert Brown won a 1999 Tony Award® for his score to Parade. Jason is the composer and lyricist of The Last Five Years, Songs for a New World, and most recently 13, which opened on Broadway on October 5, 2008.  Jason is the composer of the incidental music for David Lindsay-Abaire’s Kimberly Akimbo and Fuddy Meers, Marsha Norman’s Last Dance, David Marshall Grant’s Current Events, Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, and the Irish Repertory Theater’s production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  He received a Tony® nomination for his contributions to the score of Urban Cowboy the Musical.  Additional New York credits include Dinah Was and A

New Brain.

      Gary Griffin’s Broadway directing credits include The Color Purple, which received 11 Tony® nominations including Best Musical; and The Apple Tree which received a Tony® nomination for Best Musical Revival. Off-Broadway credits include: Saved, The Apple Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pardon My English, The New Moon and Beautiful Thing. Tour credits include the national tour of The Color Purple.  London credits include Pacific Overtures at the Donmar Warehouse.  He is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

      Oscar®-winning actress Kathy Bates will play the roles of Mother Swan and Sam’s Mom.  She was nominated for a Tony Award® for her performance in the original Broadway production of ‘night, Mother and won an Obie Award for her performance as Frankie in the original Off-Broadway production of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.  Her film credits include Misery, Primary Colors, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes, Titanic, Fred Claus, Charlotte’s Web, Failure to Launch, Little Black Book, Prelude to a Kiss and most recently, P.S. I Love You.  Kathy lent her voice to the animated comedy Bee Movie and The Golden Compass.  She was nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award for the television musical movie Annie.

      Fred Willard will play the roles of Brother Swan, Owner, Applegate, Camper Boatman, Passenger, Abe Lucas, Keeper, Headman in charge of Birds, and Policeman.  Mr. Willard has appeared in Christopher Guest films including A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, This is Spinal Tap and For Your Consideration.  Other film credits include Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and American Wedding.  His Off-Broadway credits include Little Murders, Arf! and The Great Airplane Snatch.  In 2005 he appeared in No, No Nanette in Cape Cod and at the Aspen Comedy Festival with the cast of Waiting for Guffman. He was nominated for an Emmy Award® for his recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Mr. Willard also voices characters on animated television series Family Guy and King of the Hill.  He recently completed a sold-out run of his sketch show Fred Willard: Alone At Last!, which received Los Angeles Artistic Director Awards for Best Comedy and Best Production. 

      Emmy Award® winning actor Richard Thomas will play Sam.  Mr. Thomas turned professional at age seven, playing the young Franklin D. Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello, while his feature film debut came at age 16 in Winning opposite Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. He became a household name with his portrayal of John-Boy on The Waltons, which earned him an Emmy Award as Best Actor in 1973.  Mr. Thomas’ stage work includes Democracy, 12 Angry Men (two national tours), As You Like It, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, The Stendhal Syndrome, Art, Tiny Alice, The Lisbon Traviata, Square One, The Front Page, Fifth of July, and The Playroom.  He was last seen on the Kennedy Center stage as Tennessee Williams in Blanche and Beyond.

      Additional casting includes Zayd Dohrn as Louie’s Thoughts; Edward Gero as Sam’s Father/Father Swan; Lauren Kennedy as Serena, and Peggity Price in a variety of roles.  The role of Louie will be performed by trumpeter and Juilliard student, Chris Venditti.  The Juilliard School is a participant in the Kennedy Center’s annual Conservatory Project, now in its sixth year, a program for developing and presenting young talent from the nation’s leading music conservatories.

         The production team for The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony includes Daniel Conway (Set Designer), Holly Hynes (Costume Designer), and Beverly Emmons (Lighting Designer).

Broadway: The Third Generation

The performances of The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony are part of the Kennedy Center’s season-long initiative Broadway: The Third Generation, celebrating the current generation of Broadway musical composers. The series kicked-off in October with Broadway: Three Generations featuring abridged concert versions of Girl Crazy, Bye Bye Birdie, and Side Show. The season will also include a new Kennedy Center production of Ragtime; a free concert in the Opera House to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Millennium Stage hosted by Stephen Schwartz and featuring Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Jeanine Tesori, Stephen Flaherty, and Lynn Ahrens followed by a full week of performances by up-and coming Broadway composers; a co-production of Michael John La Chiusa’s Giant to appear at Arlington’s Signature Theatre as part of the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays; and the nationally touring production of Spring Awakening.

The Kennedy Center Education Department

For more than 30 years, the Kennedy Center Education Department has provided quality arts experiences through performances, residencies, workshops, conferences, career development programs, symposia, and on-line and print resources.  In the past year, the Center’s education programs have directly impacted more than 11 million people across the nation.   The mission of the Education Department is to foster understanding of and participation in the performing arts through exemplary programs and performances for diverse populations of all ages that represent the unique cultural life and heritage of the United States.  For more information, visit the Center’s web site at

Ticket Information

Tickets cost $18-$35 and may be purchased at the Kennedy Center Box Office or by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600.  Those patrons living outside the Washington metropolitan calling area may dial toll-free at (800) 444-1324.

Funding Credits

Theater at the Kennedy Center is presented with the generous support of Stephen and Christine Schwarzman.

Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, The President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, the Estate of Joseph R. Applegate, Chevy Chase Bank, and The Clark Charitable Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Education supports approximately one-third of the budget for the Kennedy Center Education Department.  The contents of this document do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

For more information about the Kennedy Center please visit

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You