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Tuesday, 31 July 2012 21:52

The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) Announces 20th Anniversary Season

TACT/THE ACTORS COMPANY THEATRE
ANNOUNCES ITS 20th ANNIVERSARY SEASON

                                                                                                                            

L O V E R S

BY BRIAN FRIEL

DIRECTED BY DREW BARR

AND

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y

BY ANITA LOOS

DIRECTED BY SCOTT ALAN EVANS
IN RESIDENCE AT THE BECKETT THEATRE AT THEATRE ROW

New York, NY  – TACT/The Actors Company Theatre (Scott Alan Evans, Cynthia Harris and Jenn Thompson, Co-Artistic Directors) today announced its 2012-2013 season and its 20th Anniversary.  On the heels of its first ever Drama Desk nomination, the critically-acclaimed company dedicated to presenting neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit will offer two very different plays in two very distinct styles: Lovers, a darkly poetic comedy by Brian Friel, and Anita Loos’ Happy Birthday, a brash American comedy from the golden age of Broadway.  Both productions will take place at The Beckett Theatre (410 West 42nd Street) at Theatre Row. 

{module ad_left_body}In a statement, Scott Alan Evans, the Co-Artistic Director of TACT, said “For this milestone year we’re thrilled to be presenting two works that epitomize our mission ‘to a T.’  Both plays are by extraordinary writers and both have been inexplicably absent from the New York stage for decades.  It’s going to be a great way to celebrate our 20th!”

TACT will open the 2012-2013 season with Lovers, by Brian Friel (Dancing at Lughnasa, Translations), directed by TACT Company Member Drew Barr.  This beautiful and intimate work is filled with Friel’s characteristic poetic lilt and devilish humor.  Friel has been hailed as the “Irish Chekhov” and is considered to be one of the greatest living English language playwrights.  Written in 1968 and first presented in the U.S. at Lincoln Center in a production that featured Art Carney, Lovers is set in contemporary Ireland and tells the tales of two very different couples, both at the beginning of their romantic journeys together, yet each from very different perspectives and with very different outcomes.  Performances are September 18 – October 20, 2012, with an official opening night set for Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

Lovers will feature scenic design by Brett Banakis, lighting design by TACT Company Member Mary Louise Geiger, costume design by Kim Krum Sorenson, and sound design by Daniel Kluger

TACT will continue its 2012-2013 season with Happy Birthday, by Anita Loos, directed by TACT Co-Artistic Director Scott Alan Evans. Loos wrote Happy Birthday for her friend Helen Hayes, who was “fed up with hoop skirts and wigs” and wanted to do something contemporary.  Hayes loved the script and brought it to Richard Rodgers, who was looking for something to produce.  Rodgers brought on Oscar Hammerstein II and wrote an original song for the production.  Hayes received the first-ever Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1947 for Happy Birthday and the production ran for 563 performances.  Performances are March 12 – April 13, 2013, with an official opening night set for Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

Casting for both productions and the creative team for Happy Birthday will be announced at a later date.

Loversand Happy Birthday will both play the following performance schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 & 8:00 p.m., and  Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 - $59.25 and will be available by visiting www.telecharge.com or calling (212) 239-6200.  Tickets will also be available at the Theatre Row box office (410 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues) between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. daily. 

To learn about the benefits of TACT membership, please visit www.tactnyc.org or call (212) 645-8228.

TACT/The Actors Company Theatre (Scott Alan Evans, Cynthia Harris, & Jenn Thompson, Co-Artistic Directors) is dedicated to presenting neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit, with a focus on creating theatre from its essence: the text and the actor's ability to bring it to life.

TACT’s celebrated company of actors was drawn together in 1992 by a love of the literature of the theatre.  Since that time, they have grown to become a true ensemble: a group that has developed a common vocabulary and a technique based on their specific artistic vision and collective body of work.  TACT company members, whose cumulative experience includes scores of significant roles on and off Broadway, in the country’s finest regional theatres and in many films and television shows, have received Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards, in addition to several Tony nominations.

After presenting thirteen seasons of “in-concert” performances, the company took a leap with its 2006-07 season by presenting fully staged productions of David Storey’s Home and The Sea by Edward Bond at The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row. TACT became a resident company on Theatre Row with its 2007-08 season when they presented critically-acclaimed productions of The Runner Stumbles by Milan Stitt and The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, by Tennessee Williams,which The New York Times included in its “Top 10 Theatre Picks for 2008.”  The company’s productions of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce, Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy, Sidney Howard’s The Late Christopher Bean and last season’s productions of Children by A.R. Gurney and Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers became instant hits and enjoyed successful runs. Lost in Yonkers also received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Revival.

Bios                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Drew Barr (Director, Lovers)TACT Salon Series: Roly Poly; I Am A Camera; The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse; Man and Boy; The Confidential Clerk.  New York: War Horse (Lincoln Center Theater Associate/Resident Director); Greedy; The Typographer’s Dream (Clubbed Thumb); Hitting the Wall (Summer Play Festival).  Regional: Over 30 productions at theaters including Great Lakes Theater Festival, Portland Stage Company, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Contemporary Theater.  University: Nickel and Dimed (Juilliard); Two Gentlemen of Verona (SUNY Purchase); Hay Fever; Mrs. Warren’s Profession (NYU’s Graduate Acting Program); The Taming of the Shrew (PATP/University of Delaware); The Country Wife (University of Washington PTTP).

Scott Alan Evans (Director, Happy Birthday).  TACT FoundingCo-Artistic & Executive Director. Since 1993, TACT has unearthed and Evans has produced and/or directed over 100 forgotten or neglected plays, bringing many back to the cannon of plays produced.  Evans’ production of T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party was among TACT’s most successful and was recently cited as one of the best revival of the season by the Wall Street Journal.  For TACT, Evans adapted and directed the U.S. premiere of Noël Coward’s Long Island Sound, and conceived, co-wrote and directed the world premiere of The Triangle Factory ProjectThe New York Post called Triangle “the theatrical event of the season.” The play has been published by Dramatists Play Services and continues to enjoy productions across the country.  More recently, Evans has produced twelve and directed seven of TACT’s productions presented at their current home at Theater Row, including Home, The Sea, The Runner Stumbles, Incident at Vichy, The Cocktail Party, Three Men on a Horse and most recently, the critically acclaimed Children.  In addition to his work with TACT, Evans wrote & directed the musical, Goose! Beyond the Nursery (3 Outer Critic Circle Award nominations including Best Off-Broadway Prod.). Other recent NY Theatre: Joseph Hayden’s The Seven Last Words… (Chamber Music Society - Lincoln Center); She Stoops to Conquer and The Constant Wife (NYU Grad. Acting).  Mr. Evans served for 10 years as Artistic Director of the American Musicals Project, producing an annual concert series at the New-York Historical Society celebrating great musical theatre writers and featuring Broadway headliners. Education: BFA, Boston Univ., School for the Arts (magna cum laude), and a former student and assistant to Michael Howard at the Michael Howard Studios.  He is a member ofSDC and the Dramatist Guild.

Brian Friel (Playwright) was born in 1929 in Omagh, County Tyrone, a part of Northern Ireland.  His father was a school principal though his grandparents were illiterate peasants native to the county of Donegal.  Born into a Catholic family, Brian first attended seminary to become a priest, but then went on to study at Saint Patrick’s College.  In 1950 he moved to Belfast and started teaching school full time in Derry.  Four years later, he had his first of many short stories published in The New Yorker.  He gained some notoriety when he wrote a series of articles for The Irish Press about his childhood in Donegal and travelling in New York.  He accepted an apprenticeship at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and by 1960, he had quit teaching to write full time.  Philadelphia, Here I Come! which ran in the 1964 Dublin Theatre Festival, was his first successful play.  Lovers debuted at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre as a part of Lincoln Center festival in 1968.  It received a Tony Nomination for “Best Play” and was adapted into an opera entitled Ballymore, which premiered at the Skylight Opera Theatre in February 1999.  Common themes in Friel’s work include the tension of the Irish class system, the changing Irish identity, and, as an homage to his grandparents, life in Donegal.   In 1980, Friel founded the Field Day Theatre Company.  He and his wife Anne Morrison have four daughters and one son.

Anita Loos (Playwright).  Born August 26, 1888, Anita Loos knew she wanted to be a writer at the age of six.  At 23, her first screenplay, The New York Hat, was produced.  At 27, she married Frank Pallma Jr. (the marriage lasted six months – she said she found him to be too boring).  After working as a staff screenwriter for D.W. Griffith’s Triangle Film Corporation, Loos travelled to New York, where she met Frank Crowninshield of Vanity Fair and became a contributor to the magazine.  In Los Angeles she met director John Emerson and together with Douglas Fairbanks formed a long-term filmmaking partnership. Loos and Emerson eventually married, although this marriage failed as well (Emerson asked for one night a week to date younger women, and Loos decided she was smarter than him).  In 1925, she began writing the “Lorelei” sketches for Harper’s Bazaar.  These would turn out to be the basis of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, one of Loos’ biggest hits.  She continued to write successfully through the 1930s and into the 40s. In 1946, she moved back to New York to write Happy Birthday for her friend Helen Hayes.  When first seen in Boston, Happy Birthday was not a hit, but Loos reworked it, and it was a smash when is appeared on Broadway, playing the Broadhurst for over 600 performances.  Loos died August 18, 1981. “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” played at her funeral.

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