Monday, September 10, 2012

CT Rep to Present Theresa Rebeck's New Play with Political Theme

Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present the regional premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s new play O Beautiful, Oct. 4 – 14 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, Storrs. For tickets and information, call 860-486-2113 and visit www.crt.uconn.edu.

O Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves . . . In our age of cyber-bullying and aggressive patriotism remember those lyrics – or else! Theresa Rebeck, Broadway playwright (Mauritius, Seminar, Dead Accounts), creator of the TV series Smash and Pulitzer prize finalist, pens a theatrically inventive mash up of contemporary American life and the history that got us to this politically polarized age. Its fiercely funny story explores the lives of high school students, teachers, and their families as they cope in a world of real personal problems and extremist ideological rhetoric that gets so heated that Jesus, Saint Paul, Joan of Arc, John Adams, Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin, among others, show up to weigh in and mix it up. Alternately sweet and fiery, and as topical as tonight’s newscast, O Beautiful lands the complex realities of our culture squarely on the stage deck in an electrifying blend of ancient characters, founding fathers and your neighborhood high school. Warning: This show includes political, social and religious content that some will find challenging, maybe even offensive. Don’t miss it!

Lennie Ryan is a shy high-school student who, to impress a girl, decides to sing “O Beautiful” at his school’s annual talent school.  Unfortunately, nerves get the better of him and he makes a mess of the lyrics. Already unpopular, the other students seize the opportunity to ruthlessly and relentlessly bully him. The girl in question, Alice Fletcher, is dealing with issues of her own. She has recently become pregnant in an incident some might consider date rape, and can only find comfort and advice from Jesus, a character in the play.

The story is interlaced with a “Glenn Beck” styled character conducting interviews with Founding Fathers. We see how the volatile rhetoric influences the lives of the families depicted in the story.  

Director Joseph Hanreddy said, “O Beautiful is a profoundly moving and piercingly funny play about the nation’s divided political heart.  We are working to bring to life a play that is as current as today’s headlines and featuring the unique voice and theatrical vision of one of America’s leading dramatists as she joins the political conversation leading up to Election Day.”

Hanreddy has directed original and contemporary plays, as well as classics by Shakespeare, Schiller, Chekhov, Pirandello, Gogol, Oscar Wilde, John Millington Synge, Farquhar, and W.S. Gilbert as well as authoring several dramatic adaptations and acting in productions. His recent work includes directing Moliere’s The Misanthrope at the Pearl Theater in New York, nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival and The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead for the Writer’s Theater in Chicago, currently nominated for a Jeff Award and Private Lives and Macbeth for the Utah Shakespeare Festival. This year he has directed Ten Chimneys and his adaptation of A Christmas Carol at the Milwaukee Rep. andOur Country’s Good for the REP/Delaware. Joe’s stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice(with JR Sullivan) has been performed at CRT as well as many major regional theaters in the US including the Oregon and Utah Shakespeare festivals, the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, South Coast Repertory Theater, and the Roundhouse Theater. Joe served as the artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Madison Repertory Theater. He founded the Ensemble Theater Company in Santa Barbara, CA and has taught actors, directors and designers at Northwestern University, the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware and the Milwaukee and Madison campuses of University of Wisconsin.

The Design team includes: Tim Golebiewski, Scenic Designer; Tiffany Delligatti, Costume Designer; Sean Nicholl, Lighting Designer; and Michael Freyer, Sound Designer.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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