Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), continues its 19th season with William Luce's "Barrymore," directed by Steven Carpenter ("Hysteria," "Mrs. Farnsworth"). The faded glamour of the 1940s theatre comes to life as Rep Stage favorite and Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Nigel Reed ("Travels With My Aunt," "Mrs. Warren's Profession," "The Judas Kiss") reunites with the director of 2008's "Trumbo: Red, White, and Blacklisted" to portray stage legend John Barrymore as he rehearses a comeback performance of his triumphal "Richard III." Mr. Reed delivers a comedic yet haunting portrayal of the acclaimed stage and screen actor from the legendary Barrymore family, icons of the American Theatre. "Barrymore" opens October 26 and runs through November 13, 2011 in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC.
Michael Stebbins, Rep Stage's producing artistic director, chose "Barrymore" with Nigel Reed in mind. "I've had ‘Barrymore' on my ‘list' for a number of years," says Stebbins. "I was front row center when Christopher Plummer performed the role on Broadway and I've never forgotten the experience. A couple of years ago, while vising New York City, I was talking with a fellow director who also wanted to produce ‘Barrymore.' He said, ‘You can't do ‘Barrymore' without an actor capable of ‘being Barrymore.' I told my friend that I had a Barrymore in the form of actor Nigel Reed. He replied, ‘You most certainly do,' as he had directed both Nigel and myself in Rep's production of ‘Mrs. Warren's Profession' a few seasons ago. I spoke to Nigel about it, and he was sold on it. And, since Nigel worked with director Steven Carpenter so beautifully on Rep's ‘Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted,' I thought this would be an ideal teaming. I hope audiences will be highly entertained and moved by this production."
Press performance is Saturday, October 29 at 8 p.m. For photos and reservations, contact Mike Scrivener in the HCC Office of Public Relations and Marketing at 443-518-3133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A post-show reception follows the Saturday, October 29 evening performance and free post-show discussions follow the November 4 and 11 performances.
A pre-show lecture by assistant film professor and critic Mike Giuliano, who will speak on "Barrymore on Screen," will complement "Barrymore" before the November 12 matinee beginning at 12:30 p.m. in Monteabaro Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information on post-show discussions and the pre-show lecture, visit www.repstage.org.
About the Play:
"Barrymore" was originally produced at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, and opened in September of 1996, starring Christopher Plummer as Barrymore and directed by three-time Tony Award winner Gene Saks. The production then toured several cities in the United States, opening on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in March, 1997. The New York Times praised "Barrymore," calling it "Fiendishly entertaining and blisteringly sad.... as fluid, stinging and warming as a Manhattan cocktail." The Chicago Tribune called the play "Big, open, technically brilliant and emotionally true. It is a work of a very high, very rare caliber."
Meet the Playwright:
William Luce wrote his Broadway and London success "The Belle of Amherst" for Julie Harris, who won her fifth Tony Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Emily Dickinson. The record album received a Grammy Award. The PBS production won three Christopher Awards. Thames Television's production of "The Belle..." starred Claire Bloom and won an Emmy Award for Best Foreign Production. For her portrayal of Isak Dinesen in Luce's "Lucifer's Child," Julie Harris received a Tony nomination. Harris also starred in Luce's "Brontë," written for WGBH and Irish Television. The WGBH production won the Peabody Award and Columbia University's Armstrong Award. "Lillian," Luce's Broadway play on Lillian Hellman, starred Tony Award actress Zoe Caldwell, with productions again in London and the Sydney Opera House. Luce's play "Bravo, Caruso!" celebrated The Cleveland Play House's 75th anniversary, and starred Joseph Mascolo and Joseph Sicari. Luce's play "Zelda" starred Olga Bellin off-Broadway. Later, as "The Last Flapper," the play starred Piper Laurie. Luce's two plays, "Chanel" and "Nijinsky," premiered at Parco Theatre in Tokyo. For American soprano Renée Fleming, Luce wrote "My Business Is To Love," which Fleming premiered in Lincoln Center and London's Barbican Centre, with Harris and Bloom co-starring. Luce's Broadway hit "Barrymore" starred Christopher Plummer as legendary John Barrymore. Plummer won a Tony Award for Best Actor. Barrymore's UK production, titled "One Helluva Life," starred Tony Award winner Tom Conti. For the Sydney Opera House production of "Barrymore," actress Judy Davis directed Australian actor Barry Otto. Luce's "Sound Portrait of William Shakespeare" for NPR starred David Warner, David Dukes, Peter Donat, Arthur Hill, Julie Harris, Joan Hackett and Marian Mercer. "Baptiste," Luce's comedy about Moliére, premiered at Hartford Stage. Luce is twice a Writers' Guild Award nominee for his CBS movies "The Last Days of Patton," starring George C. Scott and Eva Marie Saint, and "The Woman He Loved," starring Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews, Olivia de Havilland and Julie Harris. Luce lives and writes on the Oregon Coast.